Getting lost in a city can be a lot of fun! It isn’t fun, however, when your plane back home is in a few hours and you are down some street you have never seen before. Luckily, we did make make it in time for our flight. Although we did have to buy another pair of train tickets, because the ones we had were for a later time that would not give us enough time to get to our gate at the airport. This is how the story ends, which is interesting enough, but our trip to Florence was one of the best vacations we have ever had.
I started a job a week before we departed from Stansted Airport. My work place was gracious enough to allow me time off so early on. We got to the airport with a lot of time to spare, so we just relaxed. We sat next to a group of old men going on a tour together. It seemed like they had never met one another before, as they were making introductions within themselves. They were travelling all across Italy and seeing the wonders Rome. Their first stop, however, was our only stop, the beautiful city of Florence.
We were worried that we had booked our train from Pisa to Florence to early and we would miss it. This fear was not helped by the fact that the plane was running late, although no one, except my girlfriend and I, seemed to care! Our plane landed in Pisa and we had more than enough time to get to the station. Yet, when we got there our train was running late! So late that a crowd had gather at our platform and when we boarded the train we had to sit apart. On a side not, the doors between carriages are such a safety hazard. They can smack someone in the face and knock someone out cold.
Our taxi driver from Florence station was lovely. Having to drive through the city centre he pointed out the cathedral and other points of interests. We had a seconds glimpse of the Duomo but it had not prepared us for what we would see later. The hotel was about a 25 minute walk away from the centre, though it felt like an eternity when we were walking back and needed to pee. Our room was great and had everything we needed, but we had one problem, which I will discuss later.
It was around 3pm when we left our hotel to explore the city. We walked along the main road to get to where we wanted. The first thing we saw was the Santa Croce.
We observed the beautiful craftsmanship as the sun shone upon it. The architecture in Florence really does look different in different lighting. We sat in front of Santa Croce as couples took photos and musicians played music. We had no idea how to get to the Cathedral so we just choose a path and walked down it.
We walked for a while peeking down alleyways to look for clues. We looked down one alleyway and there it was! The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.
It is enormous! Like ENORMOUS! We just looked at it in amazement. People around us were doing the same. We were watching Medici on our flight and on the show the Dome is not complete. Now I can appreciate the challenge faced by architecture of the time. To create a dome of that scale and not have it collapse. Incredible. The sun was setting and in this warm light the Cathedral shone beautifully. It looked like something out of Assassins Creed!
The atmosphere was amazing. In front of you was a grand piece of work with sunlight setting it alight. The surrounding area was busy with tourists eating ice cream and taking photographs. Someone was playing the cello and it seemed so fitting. We slowly made our way to the front of the cathedral and the sight I saw shocking. I thought the main attraction of the cathedral was the dome. I was so very wrong.
You can stare at this for hours and that would not be enough time to take it all in. Next to the Cathedral are a few cafes. We sat here and drank coffee as the sun set. Once the coffee was gone we began our search for food. Our first stop was a supermarket. We love supermarkets. They are so interesting as they are very different from the ones at home. I got a pack of beers for later, we found a lovely restaurant with great staff and amazing food. This was the only night we did not struggle to get back to our hotel.
The next morning we woke up and crossed the bridge to explore the other side. This would involve a lot of climbing. This side is higher up, which makes for good photographs of the city.
We climbed higher and higher, until we found something unexpected. A cemetery! Though it was not as unexpected as the one I found in Barcelona, this was similar in aesthetics.
We explored this cemetery for a while, trying to find the oldest grave. We found the grave of this singer.
My girlfriend got weirded out after a while so we left and found the chapel. This was a great vantage point to take photographs. We also went inside the chapel as mass was being held.
I think this is a good point to end the journey. Okay, not end it, but change the pace. I have created a video that covers the rest of our trip. It also gives a better feel for the trip than just words and photographs. Enjoy!